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TECHNICAL PAPER

ENCOUNtEr CONFOrMAL ECODESIGNEr


Revolutionizing the Art of ECOs

OVERVIEW
Engineering change order (ECO) is a common term in the semiconductor industry. It has a wide variety of connotationsfrom adding or removing logic to more subtle changes such as cleaning up routing for signal integrity. An ECO can come at any point in the design cycle, with the goal being to deliver the product to market as quickly as possible with minimal risk to correctness and schedule. Whenever it occursand whether it represents a simple design x or spinning a derivative productan ECO is widely recognized by engineering and management as a time ofhighstress, long work hours, and uncertainty.
Micro Architecture

Golden RTL

GDS

Mask

Idea
RTL

Accelerate
RTL-to-GDS

Product
Metal

Figure 1: ECO challenge

Todays ECO ows are manual and labor-intensive, and remove only some of the uncertainty regarding whether the product will function properly. Since designers typically dont know if a change made in the logical netlist can be executed in the physical netlist, completing the ECO process typically requires many cycles. However, if designers are provided with early knowledge of the feasibility of implementation, an ECO can be achieved with only metal layer changes, enabling the design team to dramatically reduce cost by changing plans and targeting workable solutions. The manual process imposes another signicant restriction. Keeping track of used spare cells and freed cells with accuracy becomes increasingly difcult when performing changes on several different levels, which makes some ECOs too complex to handle manually.

Old RTL R1

Synthesis

Test Insertion

P&R
P&R Which logic cones are affected? New RTL R2 EC Old Netlist G1 Old DEF Incremental optimizations and P&R Assign unplaced cells

Difcult to identify where to x

Manual Editing

Physical Feasability

Final Netlist (New DEF)

EC

New Netlist G2

Figure 2: Manual ECO ow

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The ow outlined in Figure 2 represents a typical manual ow. It starts by comparing the old netlist to the modied RTL using an equivalency checker. By looking at the differences, the designer can locate the changes necessary in the netlist. After manual editing and rechecking, the netlist is ready for physical implementation. Typically, there are many timeconsuming cycles in this loop (which can be tedious when coupled with the task of keeping track of freed gates and used spare cells). Next, the place and route tool assesses the differences ofthe modied logical netlist and the physical def le to correct the physical implementation. Finally, the new netlist needs to be compared to the modied RTL. This is not always possible using someequivalency checking tools, which rely on information passed from the synthesis tool. With mask costs running into the millions of dollars, an ECO can mean the life or death of a projector even a company. Knowing that an ECO can be implemented with the gates on the mask and then processed with a limited number of metal layers enables a design team to move with condence and efciency. By adding more exibility, chips can be processed through the base levels and several metal layers, and then nished with new ECO metal layers, thereby saving cost and ensuring that time-to-market goals are met.

APPLICaTIoN
PRE-MaSK aND PoST-MaSK
When the ECO is applied, it is important to consider if the state of the design is pre-mask or post-mask. Pre-mask ECOs are performed during place and route and before the design is taped out. Pre-mask ECOs can be broken down into two categories: functional and non-functional. Functional ECOs deal with making logical changes to the design, while non-functional ECOs handle changes that affect timing and signal integrity, such as design rule verication (DRV) or routing. Atthis point, there is no mask to limit resources utilized, nor is it necessary to keep track of freed cells or utilized spare gates. Post-mask ECOs are performed after the design has been sent to manufacturing. Once fabrication has begun, the number of gates on the die is xed and any changes will need to be accomplished with these resources. Ideally, a post-mask ECO will be achievable with simple metal layer changes, thereby greatly reducing the cost of the ECO.

ECO FEaSIBILITY
Feasibility is another consideration for ECOs. Many customers want to process multiple ECOs but are uncertain if all of the ECOs can be implemented. To increase the level of certainty, designers willperform the ECOs one at a time. However, this strategy causes many projects to run out of schedule, and forces design teams to defer some changes to the next revision of the chip to meet time-to-market considerations. If engineers can determine which ECOs can be implemented, they can focus on the feasible ECOs and proceed to tapeout of the design. To determine the feasibility, Cadence Conformal ECO Designer compares each logic cone in the design, determines which cones are different, and identies only the changes needed to complete the ECO. The changes are highlighted by the green ECO fragment in the new netlist shown in Figure 3. Only the necessary changes are made to a cone of logic. Design teams are often challenged with ECOs that may be too complex to handle manually. In a post-mask ow, the ECO changes are mapped to available gates or freed gates. If insufcient resources are available, Conformal ECO Designer will inform the user. By only making needed changes to a cone of logic the amount of change to the physical design is limited. As demonstrated in Figure 3, reducing the amount of change required by the place-and-route tools minimizes the complexity and risk of the ECO.

EN C O U N tEr CO N FO rMA L ECODESI G N Er: REVO LU tI O NI ZI NG tH E Art O F ECOS

Old P&R Netlist (G1) o1 o2 o3


Encounter Conformal Equivalence Checker

o1 o2 o3

o1 ECO New P&R Netlist (G2)


Figure 3: Conformal ECO Designer process diagram

o2 o3

New Netlist

A ComPLETE ECO SoLUTIoN


By enhancing the integration between Conformal ECO Designer and the Cadence SoC Encounter RTL-to-GDSII system, Cadence has created a complete ECO solution (Figure 4) that spans all parts of the design ow to achieve the highest quality ECO. Conformal ECO Designer performs feasibility analysis and implements the changes to the netlist if possible. Changes are then translated into physical implementation by the SoC Encounter System.

Old Gate/DEF

New RTL w/ECO

Encounter Conformal ECO Designer

GDSII

Figure 4: ECO framework

Conformal ECO Designer generates the modied logical netlist that is converted into the physical design. The conversion is handled by the SoC Encounter System, which has special features to process ECOs quickly and efciently. The following paragraphs will highlight the capabilities of SoCEncounter.

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The ECO ow, shown in Figure 5, starts with the Conformal ECO Designer. Conformal ECO Designer performs an analysis for post-mask designs to determine the feasibility of the ECO. IftheECO is not feasible, Conformal ECO Designer will indicate this to the user. The intent is todetermine differences between the original netlist and the updated netlist. This provides information regarding the changes in the design. The changes are managed and merged with theoriginal netlist to achieve the new logical netlist. The updated logical netlist is then passed tothe SoC Encounter System for processing, which maps the changes to the physical netlist.

Old RTL R2

Old RTL R1

Synthesis

Synthesis

Test Insertion

P&R

SoC Encounter System


Old Netlist G2 Old Netlist G1 Old DEF ECO Placement & Routing

Encounter Conformal ECO Designer


Final Netlist

Figure 5: ECO Designer detailed ow

PLaCE aND RoUTE


SoC Encounter System handles place and route. Within the SoC Encounter System there are several choices made depending on the state of manufacturing and cost savings that is desired. The most typical choices are pre- and post-mask ECOs. In pre-mask ECOs, designers can make changes by adding and removing gates, while at the same time minimizing changes to routing and existing placements. In post-mask ECOs, the changes made are based on spare gates or freed gates in the design. With post-mask ECOs, the goal is to preserve the base layers and only re-mask the metal layers. The post-mask ECO choices also apply to gate array cells, where the changes focus on the routing layers. Notably, SoC Encounter System will re-map the ECO to meet the physical design needs. It balances the needs of timing, design rule verication (DRV), and available spare gates to automatically optimize the ECO to the physical design. SoC Encounter System also offers two sub-options for metal routing, shown in Figure 6. One is a complete mask change in which all metal layers are re-routed. The other is a limited mask change where only a few metal layers are processed, such as, for example, changing only a few metal layers (i.e., metals 1 to 3, in an 8-metal layer process). Reprocessing only a limited number of layers provides a signicant cost savings over reprocessing all layers.

EN C O U N tEr CO N FO rMA L ECODESI G N Er: REVO LU tI O NI ZI NG tH E Art O F ECOS

Encounter Conformal ECO Designer

Add/Delete Gates

Pre-Mask

Pre or Post Mask?

Post-Mask

Spare Cell Re-Mapping

Incremental Optimization

All or Limited Metals?

ECO Route

Final Design

Figure 6: ECO routing decision tree

With SoC Encounter System, the design is physically remapped to meet the specic physical design requirements. As seen in Figure 7, a freshly imported ECO consists of spare cells, placed cells (untouched by the ECO), deleted cells (cells disconnected by the ECO), and new cells. Note, inthisdiagram the new cells have yet to be placed. The deleted cells are not actually deleted butpreserved for post-mask ECOs to be used as possible spare cells.

Spare Cell Placed Cell Deleted Cell New Cells

Figure 7: Design with ECO

When the design is physically remapped automatically, SoC Encounter System makes several decisions based on the function required, timing and DRV requirements, and the functions available in the spare cells and freed cells. For example, in Figure 8, a design requires a two-input NAND gate. The only device available to meet the design requirements is a three-input AND gate and an INVERTER. SoC Encounter System will take advantage of those devices to meet the function and

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the design requirements. This is a simplied version of the devices and functions that can be utilized. This now means ECOs are no longer limited to a one-to-one mapping of cells, but to the availability of unused logic functions in the design.
Desire Function VDD Available Spare Gates

Spare Cell Mapping

Figure 8: Physical remapping

As can be seen in the Figure 9, the new cells are functionally mapped into the design utilizing both spare cells and deleted cells. These are color-coded in the diagram according to the legend on the right. During remapping, SoC Encounter System will make the minimal number of changes. This includes minimizing route changes while connecting in new cells.

Spare Cell Placed Cell Deleted Cell New Cells

Figure 9: Design with ECO physically remapped

In addition, ECO Route can be limited to specic metal layers. By limiting the layer changes, SoC Encounter System can accomplish ECOs at greatly reduced cost. In Figure 10, the routing changes will be limited to metals 1 through 3 in a 5-layer process. The disconnected cell is broken off of NetC and the new spare cell is connected in metal 3 or below. All the while, the now disconnected upper metal layers are preserved to ensure the previously generated masks for the upper layers arepreserved.

Disconnected Cell

Spare Cell

Upper Metal Layers

NetC

Figure 10: Limited layer ECO Route

EN C O U N tEr CO N FO rMA L ECODESI G N Er: REVO LU tI O NI ZI NG tH E Art O F ECOS

SEQUENTIaL ECO
Functional ECOs can be further categorized into two types: combinatorial and sequential. Combinational changes are less involved and can usually be accomplished in metal layer changes (post-mask) if enough spare gates are available on the mask. Sequential changes are more involved and require rerunning of clock tree synthesis, and may also require xing of scan chains. The steps involved in xing scan chains depends on whether sequential elements were removed or added, and whether scan chains were broken. In the event spare sequential elements were already in scan chains, no breakage occurs. Similarly, sequential elements can be removed from the design and still remain in the scan chains with no breakage. The difculty arises when new sequential elements are added (with no scan connections these then require incremental stitching). This capability exists with the synthesis technology of Conformal ECO Designer. As shown in Figure 11, the user can choose to make no changes to the scan or do incremental scan mapping and stitching. Once complete, the netlist is passed through to SoC Encounter System for processing to clean up the place and route. The last step in this ow is to pass the new scan setup and netlist to the ATPG solution for regeneration of the ATPG patterns.

ECO Netlist (G3)

Encounter Conformal ECO Designer

Incremental Scan Map and Connect

No Change

SoC Encounter

ECO Netlist w/ ReOrdered Scan

Re-Generate ATPG

Figure 11: DFT in the ECO ow

CoNCLUSIoN
With the high cost of generating and producing IC designs, all steps in the process are critical. When performing ECOs, mask costs alone can exceed a million dollars. The ability to limit mask changes to a few metal layers greatly reduces risk and cost. In addition, many ECOs are too complex to perform manually, which can limit an organizations ability to develop features sets andnew products. Conformal ECO Designer, together with the SoC Encounter System, forms a complete Cadence ECO solutionfrom RTL to GDSII. Customers using the solution enjoy better predictability, faster process times, high-quality results, and lower costs, enabling design teams to process more ECOs to ensure products ship on time.

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REfERENCES
Engineering Change Order http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Engineering_Change_Order, October 8, 2007 Cadence Conformal LEC The Intel Experience, Itai Yarom, Michael Zuckerman, Erik Seligman and Aviad Sokolover http://www.cdnusers.org/Portals/0/cdnlive/emea2006/Encounter/11.00%203.3-2.6%20cdn06_ emea_itai_yarom_nal.pdf, January 28, 2008 Cadence Virtuoso and Encounter Interoperability using OpenAccess 2.2 http://www.chiptalk.org/modules/wfsection/article.php?articleid=14, January 28, 2008

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2008 Cadence Design Systems, Inc. All rights reserved. Cadence, Conformal, and Encounter are registered trademarks and the Cadence logo and SoC Encounter are trademarks of Cadence Design Systems, Inc. All others are properties of their respective holders. 20602 07/08 KM/FLD/CS/PDF